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Senate office building foe will appeal order to post $11M bond

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Saying he's "not a member of the so-called 1 percent," former state lawmaker Jim Knoblach said he will appeal a ruling from the Minnesota Court of Appeals that requires him to post an $11 million bond to continue his lawsuit aimed at stopping construction of a new Senate Office Building, according to the Associated Press.

The three-judge appeals panel Tuesday ordered Knoblach to post the bond by May 27 or his lawsuit will be dismissed. The judges said the bond is required to protect state government from increased construction costs that it would likely incur if the project is delayed due to Knoblach's lawsuit, MPR News reports.

Knoblach's appeal of the bond requirement will go to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The bond question is one aspect of the lawsuit filed last October by Knoblach, a Republican who used to represent the St. Cloud area in the Minnesota House. He claims in his suit that the Legislature violated the state constitution when it included financing for the $90 million office building in a tax bill, rather than in a public works bonding bill, which would have required a super-majority to pass.

A lower court dismissed the suit, but Knoblach is appealing. The appeals judges said they would schedule a hearing on the lawsuit on June 10 if Knoblach posts the $11 million as ordered.

The state hopes to break ground on the building in July.

Knoblach’s attorney, Erick Kaardal, argued that the bond wasn't necessary because the court will have enough time to decide the case before the planned groundbreaking. He also told MPR News that Knoblach would likely drop his lawsuit if the Supreme Court doesn't rule in his favor.

This building project has faced other hurdles besides the lawsuit. There was some doubt during the legislative session over whether it would be approved at all. Leaders in the House and Senate squabbled over the early design of the building, with some critics -- including Gov. Dayton -- calling it too lavish.

The plan that was finally approved did away with a reflecting pool, a workout room, elaborate landscaping and a parking ramp, to reduce the cost.

Knoblach's lawsuit is the only remaining obstacle to construction.

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